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August 12, 2010

Chancellor's Statement on the Passing of Attorney Charles W. Bowser

Philadelphia Bar Association Chancellor Scott F. Cooper issued the following statement on the passing of attorney, civil rights advocate and politician Charles W. Bowser, who passed away on Aug. 9 at the age of 79:

Charles W. Bowser was an extraordinary lawyer and powerful advocate in the courtroom. He tried to move a social agenda that would benefit everyone in the city.

He inspired a generation of African Americans to follow him into public service. He ran twice for mayor during the 1970s and his campaign volunteers included former Mayor John Street, state Rep. Dwight Evans and U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah. His campaigns inspired John Street and W. Wilson Goode to run for mayor. Governor Rendell called him the most effective African-American politician and leader who never held office. Many notable African-American attorneys and politicians sought out his advice, including Mayor Michael Nutter and Luther Weaver of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Bowser, who served as a deputy mayor under James Tate in the 1960s, was city managing director under former Mayor Bill Green. He held a number of positions with the city, including a seat on the Police Advisory Commission and executive director of the Philadelphia Anti-Poverty Committee. He also served on the commission that investigated the 1985 bombing of MOVE headquarters in West Philadelphia. He wrote a book about the siege. He was the first leader of the Philadelphia Urban Coalition, promoting the development of the minority business community.

He graduated from Temple University Law School in 1957 and litigated many high-profile civil rights cases.

His passion and brilliance will be missed, not just by those who knew him, but by the city he loved and called home.
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